The shift towards digital campaigns has brought a wave of new tasks to the marketing function, including social media, SEO, digital ads, influencer management, and customer tracking (just to name a few).
Since resources are limited, the new roles and responsibilities have further increased the workload of marketers. Therefore, managers need to find ways to become more efficient, in order to realize the full potential of the marketing function.
How can marketing departments make the most of their scarce resources, streamline processes, and free up valuable time? Marketing resource management (MRM) is all about answering this question.
What Are Marketing Resources? And What Is Marketing Resource Management (MRM)?
Before we jump right into different MRM systems, we need to clarify what MRM entails.
A resource is an asset available to the company, which can be used by an organization to continue its operations and function properly. A resource can take many forms, such as budget, staff, materials, computers, technologies, or even digital assets (including product photos and brand guidelines).
Therefore, the term “marketing resource” describes all assets that can be used by the marketing function. Marketing resource management rearranges all marketing resources, in order to achieve the best possible outcome at the lowest effort and cost.
Marketing resource management tools are software applications that help implement a MRM strategy. MRM strategies both facilitate long-term projects (such as a new product launch) and streamline daily routine tasks (such as creating social media content and other marketing collateral).
MRM systems can support many processes, such as initial planning, budgeting, streamlining marketing workflows, tracking the progress of a project, and facilitating collaboration. Meanwhile, the marketing function can achieve better results while it frees up valuable time. MRM software may even contain digital asset management (DAM) features, which allows users to easily store, find, and distribute digital assets (such as photos or videos).
In the following section, we will get more into detail about the benefits of MRM and explain why your marketing function should make use of marketing resource management software, in order to implement a successful MRM strategy.
Why Should You Use Marketing Resource Management?
You might ask yourself why your organization needs an MRM system. The answer is simple: An MRM system helps a marketing team speed up processes, save time, lower costs, and achieve better ROI results.
A thorough MRM strategy can help improve operational marketing processes and implement guidelines more efficiently via the following:
With the help of a MRM system, decision-makers obtain a bird’s eye view of all marketing activities. This benefit makes budgeting a lot easier and provides new perspectives on how to use all available resources.
By aligning people, setting milestones, tracking works-in-progress, and setting deadlines, an MRM system helps decision-makers create, control, and streamline workflows.
- Campaign measurement
With MRM, managers can locate and fix operational bottlenecks and evaluate the outcome of specific campaigns according to KPIs (such as creation times, costs, and performances).
Setting up efficient means of collaboration inside and across teams is crucial to successful MRM. Systems such as Filestage facilitate the content review and approval process, in order to save up time and reduce bottlenecks.
- Brand compliance
As an MRM system centralizes all marketing activities in one location, the output is more consistent in terms of images, fonts, typography, and brand voice.
Marketing Resource Management Roles: Who Is Involved?
After we have determined the benefits of MRM, it is worthwhile to take a look at who’s actually involved. While an enterprise resource management (ERM) system encompasses all functions and most of the staff, MRM systems help structure the content marketing process. Therefore, they only involve particular roles and departments.
Marketing teams usually consist of staff members that oversee and manage the content creation process of particular products. These specialists bring products to life by defining the overall direction of a product, including target market and USPs. Assets such as slogans, web page copy, product photos, and video content need to be created according to the guidelines provided by content managers.
In order to create these assets, content managers need to work with content creators, such as the design team or copywriters. Furthermore, content reviewers need to approve the end results.
While content managers typically belong to the in-house marketing function, content creators can belong to other functions or even other organizations. Content creators can take many forms, such as copywriters, web page designers, photographers, or video creators.
Communication between content creators and content managers is crucial, as creators need to implement the task as closely and precisely as possible (according to the suggestions of the content managers). Therefore, a MRM system needs to facilitate the communication and collaboration process.
Content managers do not make decisions in isolation, but require approval from inside and outside the marketing function. For instance, product designers need to approve technical details, while upper management of the marketing function needs to ensure the asset is in line with the overall strategy.
Next to the roles directly involved in MRM, other stakeholders involved influence the MRM strategy and process. For instance, the upper organizational management determines the marketing budget, which defines the limits and scope of a MRM strategy.
The next section takes a closer look at ways to define a thorough MRM strategy.
How to Come Up with a Marketing Resource Management Strategy
As we mentioned earlier, marketing assets can include budget, people, third parties, and processes. The goal of a MRM strategy is to restructure each individual resource to streamline workflows that result in an increased output and reduced workloads.
In order to restructure the function, we recommend Gartner’s approach to resource management:
Step 1: Resource Capacity
First of all, you will need to get an overview of all available resources of the marketing function and find out how they are currently being utilized.
You can make use of existing resource allocation reports. But if they are not available, you can create them yourself via resource allocation templates and Gantt charts.
Furthermore, you need to think about the most critical bottlenecks within your function. Which processes cause the biggest problems? And which ones take too much time or are just inefficient, but were previously ignored? These pain points can be multitudinous. They may include these kinds of questions:
- Why do new product renderings take so much time?
- Why do product managers wait so long for feedback?
- Are there problems with distributing the content globally?
- Are your brand guidelines being followed throughout the entire organization, including different markets?
This long list may differ from organization to organization.
While the first step aims at getting a bird’s eye view of your function, the following steps aim at reallocating your resources. Therefore, it is crucial to fully understand all bottlenecks within the function.
Step 2 and 3: Resource Allocation and Resource Work Management
After you have located all bottlenecks that threaten or delay important milestones of a project, you need to think of ways to streamline these workflows.
One good way to get rid of a bottleneck is called “resource releveling.” This tactic makes use of the hidden knowledge within each employee of the marketing function.
Here’s an example: If the design function cannot keep up with marketing’s demands, some of the visual assets might be created by marketing colleagues with basic graphic design knowledge. This effort would relieve the design function, so your team can concentrate on more important tasks.
Step 4: Teamwork Management
While Step 2 aims at reallocating certain roles and responsibilities within a workflow, it is of crucial importance to equip your team with the right MRM software. Then you can make the collaboration process as smooth as possible.
With the right MRM software, a team can communicate efficiently, reduce bottlenecks, and share knowledge and assets within and across organizations. Later on, we are going into more detail about what type of software you should use to support your function.
Step 5: Personal Work Management
While teamwork management aims at streamlining processes across team members within and across different functions, the goal of personal work management is to motivate and educate individuals. This step can be combined with the resource releveling approach described above.
To continue the example above, utilizers of the marketing function can easily obtain basic Photoshop skills, in order to create video thumbnails or social media posts. Managers should create these opportunities if the result is saved time or higher output.
Obviously, it should be clear that resource releveling only makes sense if the additional responsibilities do not distract team members from fulfilling their main tasks.
Three Case Studies in Marketing Resource Management That Will Convince You to Get Started
From theory to practice: In the following section, we are going to show you three successful real-world case studies of marketing resource management in action.
Bayer – Ensuring Global Brand Compliance through MRM
As a global player, Bayer needed to align several subgroups within the brand, in order to operate under the same brand guidelines. Brands like Bayer, who operate in the highly-regulated pharma and healthcare industry, need to put a special emphasis on a unified branding approach, as noncompliance can result in serious consequences.
Bayer decided to consolidate all brand assets into one platform, so that all global subgroups could access the latest resources. Nowadays, the platform stores over 50,000 assets, and it’s used by up to 80,000 stakeholders per month. This storage results in significant savings (time and cost) for the global brand and all subgroups involved.
Under Armour – Improved Media Coverage through MRM
Under Armour is a global sports apparel brand that produces tons of marketing collateral, which needs to be shared with 400 team members across five global locations. Previously, Under Armour did not use an MRM system. Instead, this company relied on cloud storage solutions to distribute assets inside and outside the organization. Team members could never be sure whether the shared files contained the most recent versions.
With the help of an MRM system, Under Armour was able to centralize all final brand assets. The company started using the same platform to distribute their assets to the media with the launch of the UA HealthBox at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). As a result, the product won over twenty CES awards during its debut.
NAB – Online Brand Portal (instead of Lengthy PDF Guidelines)
Before establishing a brand portal, NAB (one of Australia’s major banks) used to have a long PDF file that contained thousands of pages. The regular updating process took hours, and the marketing and design department could not make efficient use of a document this large.
But by establishing an online brand portal, each function can now quickly access all relevant information without the need to sift through hundreds of pages. Furthermore, the system offers additional benefits, such as the ability to store and share brand files, onboard employees, and produce automatic logo requests. Through the brand portal, NAB was simultaneously able to increase brand compliance and reduce the workload of multiple functions.
Best Solutions for Marketing Resource Management Software
After your goals are clear and you know how to rearrange different resources, you need to think about which MRM systems suit your needs best.
In the following sections, we introduce some of the most commonly used systems, as well as MRM tools that specialize in specific areas of the process.
When you are starting to identify bottlenecks in the marketing function, you can be pretty sure that a lot of them are related to an inefficient approval process. While Filestage is not a complete MRM system, it helps streamline the content creation process by offering one single collaboration platform.
All participating parties can easily review, comment on, and approve content of all kinds, including text, photos, and videos. Advanced marketing project management features (such as due-date tracking, task-related file-sharing options, and version controls) provide a very efficient collaboration tool that saves the time of all participants involved.
- Centralized content review platform
- Streamlining and speeding up the content creation process
- Enhanced project management features, such as due date and status tracking
- Third parties might need some instructions before being able to use the platform
- Only covers part of MRM
Brandmaker is a complete MRM system that facilitates the resource planning process by offering multiple functions for budget planning and management. Marketers can keep track of each individual’s spending, which makes the ROI easily traceable.
Moreover, Brandmaker has various DAM features, such as an asset library with distribution functions.
Brandmaker is a good choice for planning and executing a thorough MRM strategy, but it lacks important content creation features, such as the support of video files.
- A thorough MRM system with focus on resource planning and tracking
- Includes multiple DAM features
- Some content types (such as videos) are not supported
MarcomCentral is a mix of a DAM and marketing asset management (MAM) system that helps create assets that adhere to established brand guidelines. You can achieve brand compliance by setting up automatic expiration notifications.
In addition to marketing resources that can be stored, managed, and distributed, MarcomCentral helps streamline the approval workflow.
Besides, MarcomCentral does not have many features that support the planning stage of an MRM strategy.
- DAM features to store and distribute marketing assets
- Intuitive storage and search function
- Not many planning features, such as budgeting tools
Intelligencebank can be categorized into three main components: DAM, BrandHub Portal, and MRM software. With DAM, users can store, manage, and distribute digital assets, while the BrandHub Portal increases brand consistency via custom-made brand guideline pages and workflow approvals.
The marketing operations software of Intelligencebank allows users to manage budgets, briefs, content, and schedules and helps distribute finished content to multiple outlets.
- Combines DAM with BrandHub Portal and MRM system
- Modular software approach
- It’s pricey to get most of the features into one bundle
Brandfolder is a capable DAM system that facilitates the storing, searching, and distributing of digital assets. It also offers customized solutions for a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, retail, and technology. Brandfolder provides great DAM features, but it falls short on budgeting and tracking tools.
- Great DAM system, which facilitates asset management and collaboration within and outside the company
- Intuitive storage and search function
- Templates for multiple purposes
- Features like analytics require the more expensive Enterprise plan
- Not enough features to effectively manage the budgeting plan
After having internalized all information, it is important to remember that marketing resource management should be regarded as a continuous process, instead of a one-time task. Resources change constantly. So to be utilized to their full potential, they need creative, out-of-the-box thinking and a systematic approach.